Wolverhampton Wanderers chief executive Jez Moxey has assured supporters that plans to develop and expand Molineux are still on the agenda while admitting fans may have to wait for a couple of seasons yet.
High-flying Wolves are still in the box seat for automatic promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship, sitting at the top of the league and six points clear of their nearest rivals, Birmingham City and Reading.
Wolves’ average attendance so far this season is 23,801 but the 1-1 draw with Sheffield United on Boxing Day attracted a crowd of 27, 106, the biggest gate of the season so far and fans are now asking if Molineux’s 28,000 capacity will be increased.
Moxey said Wolves chairman Steve Morgan had made redeveloping Molineux his priority but admitted that the current economic gloom would affect Wolves as much as anyone else, with work unlikely to start, “for at least a couple of seasons”.
The board of directors have already carried out a feasibility study to look at ways to improve and possibly expand the stadium but the current credit crisis has had a bearing on matters, with any spending being concentrated on strengthening the squad for now.
Moxey said: “We have started to look at ways to redevelop Molineux and plans to improve the ground are very positive but the credit crunch has not helped our business case. We remain committed to exploring all the possibilities of improving the stadium over the medium term and, having carried out an expansion feasibility study, the future for Molineux looks very positive.
“I would like to explain to everyone that these things take time and if we do push the button to start expanding the stadium, we are not likely to see any work carried out for a couple of seasons, at least.
“This was always the intention, purely because of the variety and complexity of issues involved with stadium redevelopment such as planning permission, the environment and traffic and parking assessments.”
He added: “We appreciate that supporters are understandably very excited and perhaps impatient for news about how we might develop Molineux – and indeed we are too. But there are some major decisions involved here and this is an area where we are all going to have to remain patient.
“Ultimately, it is a situation where stadium and team redevelopment can go hand-in-hand, but as we continue to explore all the different possibilities, I don’t think anyone could argue that our current focus must remain directed towards events on the pitch.”
He continued: “Rest assured, though, that the stadium remains as one of our high priorities and we will continue to keep supporters informed of our plans wherever possible.”
Mick McCarthy’s side are in action tonight on the north-west coast against Blackpool but they will be without key midfielder Michael Kightly, absent through suspension.
The England Under-21 international misses the game at Bloomfield Road this evening after clocking up his fifth booking of the season in Wolves’ recent 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers while McCarthy could also be without influential Irish left-back Stephen Ward, who has struggled over Christmas with a virus and was replaced in the draw with Sheffield United.
Kightly’s suspension comes at a time when the player is enjoying a productive run of form. He set up Neill Collins’ headed goal against Kevin Blackwell’s Blades from a corner and hates missing games.
He said: “I have had four bookings for a good few weeks now and I had been trying to keep out of it a bit but unfortunately I picked up a silly one at Doncaster.
“It is really disappointing to miss out on this game. I suppose it means the manager can give me a little bit of a rest now, though I would much rather play. I am not sure if I will travel up with the squad.”
The home fans at Molineux were frustrated with their side’s inability to kill off Sheffield United and Kightly admits expectations among the supporters are high after their team’s flying start.
He said: “The fans want us to win and win comfortably every game now wherever we go, but we can’t always do that.
“There will be games where we have to scrap a win out or scrap a draw out. We are not going to win every game 3-0 or 4-0. Sometimes, it is the games where you battle to get three points which are the most satisfying.”